Beetle of the week

August 24, 2012 • 1:04 pm

The acorn weevil (Curculio glandium) is a curious beast/It uses its snout for an acorn feast./The squirrels all hate it ’cause the beast is rude/For its larvae horn in on the squirrels’ food.

Photo from @TGIQ’s (‘TheGeekInQuestion) Twitter feed. The bug (remember, not a true bug) looks like it’s having a good ol’ time stomping to cowboy music.

[EDIT from Matthew Cobb: TheGeekInQuestion is really Crystal Ernst, a PhD student at McGill University in Canada. She has a blog and a website where she shows her photos, with the foot-stomping weevil on the masthead. There’s some great advice there for how to take macro photos of vertebrates. She also has some amazing photos of hairworms in various beetles which are just mind-bogglingly gruesome. I sent a video of a hairworm coming out of a mantis butt that Crystal posted, but Jerry refused to put it up here saying it was too horrible…]

A cool National Geographic video of the feeding and oviposition behavior of the acorn weevil is here.  Do watch it! The larvae can take three days to emerge from the acorn. The narrative is a bit corny, but the video is great.

h/t: Matthew Cobb

9 thoughts on “Beetle of the week

  1. Who was it said God had ‘an inordinate fondness for beetles’? Looking at that thing, one really has to wonder what God was ‘on’ when he created that.

    The next thought is, what sane god would bother? Like, the absence of an acorn weevil would hardly leave a gaping hole in the ecosystem…

    1. Who was it said God had ‘an inordinate fondness for beetles’?

      J.B.S. Haldane. Repeatedly, it is alleged. As the son of a wildly eccentric and high-profile “national treasure” scientist, JBS recognised a good sound bite when he heard one and wasn’t averse to recycling his better ones at every possible opportunity.

      Looking at that thing, one really has to wonder what God was ‘on’ when he created that.

      What She was “on”? Well, nothing more than normal beetle pheromones. It’s obvious (from the fondness for beetles) that God is indeed a beetle, and has made Earth’s inhabitants in Her image.
      Or would you prefer that She was a member of the Ichneumonidae? That idea probably had Darwin himself wake up sweating on a few nights ; it certainly has entertained a few Hollywood scriptwriters.

      1. Urgh. It was wasps that convinced me that God was the ultimate sadist with an obsessive eye for detail. 80,000 species of wasps devoted to torturing small creatures to death in ingenious ways. Makes Hell (the biblical sort) look like amateur night at an S&M club.

        But I rather like the idea of God-as-a-beetle. Do you suppose (if evolution had gone another way) that we would be arguing about the Giant Winged One in the sky…

        1. I downloaded a collection of HP Lovecraft’s stuff a few days ago, because I’ve never read any of it (and my Kindle is getting bored with C.J.Cherryh). I’m sure that I’ll find something about winged gods as well as tentacled gods. And probably something a bit more interesting than the “50 Shades of Torture” described in the Bible.
          Gregor Samsa, where are you when we need a viewpoint from inside the exoskeleton?

  2. The word you seek is “hemiptera”, or “halfwing”, not “bug”.

    Back in my day, “insect” was a sub-category of “bug”, not the other way around.

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